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SoCal performing group Young Americans return from Japan

March 19, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Members of the Young Americans international performance group returned to California from Japan on Saturday, unscathed and welcomed with open arms.

The group had been touring and doing musical outreach programs when the 9.0 earthquake hit. They were then stranded at an airport for an entire week.

American Airlines helped the group get the dozens of tickets they needed to get home.

Family and friends anxiously awaited the arrival of the 44-member group at Los Angeles International Airport.

They were in a city just outside Tokyo. And while they were nowhere near the most devastated areas, they said getting food and shelter was difficult.

"We ended up spending the night in a theatre for the next three nights," said the group's manager, Mary Leist. "The community was incredible. They brought us lots of food and blankets and pillows and everything to make us comfortable and feeling at home."

For family and friends, it was difficult not knowing when the group would be able to safely return home.

"I'm absolutely thrilled to have her home," said Kim Thompson, a mother of one of the young performers.

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